Unintentional injury is a leading cause of death for children and is a major reason for hospital and emergency department admissions. In Victoria, Australia, an average of 34 children die per year and over 150 children are treated in hospital per day as a result of unintentional injury. The State Government of Victoria dedicated $1.9 million over 4 years to the SafeStart initiative to prevent serious injuries to children living in selected local communities. SafeStart was part of the Victorian Governments $788 million ‘A Fairer Victoria’ package of initiatives to address social disadvantage. SafeStart is a model for the integrated management of injury prevention activity at a local level and tests the approach of involving communities in the implementation of proven interventions. SafeStart was locally focused and managed and encouraged partnerships with health, education, retail, sport and community sectors to target areas where children under 8 years lived, played or gathered. SafeStart was implemented by two selected local governments during 2006–2010, based on a previous trial in three local communities during 2002–2005. A comprehensive independent evaluation of SafeStart is ongoing and will be complete by December 2010. This presentation will address the key themes of the conference and report on how each of the local communities implemented the SafeStart initiative, will highlight preliminary impacts, equity and sustainability issues, and will reflect on the cost-effectiveness of State Government investment into local community commitment to prevent child injury and create safe home and play environments.
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